“In the Eye of the Beholder” by Mary Livingston

I love to find hidden landscapes in my surroundings and have recently discovered that the underside of boats undergoing repairs are a goldmine for this type of abstract photography.

I took this image in early December 2022 beneath a yacht hauled out on the boat-hard at Seaview, Wellington Harbour. Crawling around under the boat I noticed these gelatinous attachments to a drainage hole in the hull that looked just like the eye of fish with parasites apparently attached to its eye, which of course, is not an eye at all. These sorts of visual adventures take me into a vast imaginary world with its own sense of life. They also help me to see my surroundings better from a photographic viewpoint, breaking down barriers of preconceived ideas of art, and giving me the courage to follow my curiosity.

It also makes me excited to think that these pieces of gelatine/weed on a boat hull can create a whole new ecosystem that mirrors the living world and the creatures in it. I am fascinated by the way our minds try to make sense of the abstract form, so in this case it has all the look of a fish and it is hard to even think of it as a bit of man-made artefact.

Our biosphere is constantly self-organising, even in this simple way, and keeps the planet alive and vibrant. Could it be that our minds are constantly self organising too? Finding such hidden treasure is a truly joyful experience for me. This particular image links me back to the sea, which I have had much experience with during my 40 year career as a marine scientist.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The colour and the uncanny trompe l’oeil of the subject matter.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I would have made the effort to use my mirrorless full frame camera. I didn’t because it involved lying on the ground looking up at the hull, whereas I could get away with simply crouching using my cell phone.

Mary Livingston shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Mary Livingston, Wellington, New Zealand


Equipment and settings

iPhone 12 Pro

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Comments (2):

  1. Karin

    January 7, 2023 at 01:39

    Wonderful image!

  2. Ann Kilpatrick

    January 16, 2023 at 10:22

    Good to see your work in here Mary, I don’t think I will ever be brave enough to post.


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